Everybody’s favourite french band is back, and with it comes 10 songs that are perfect for the summer indie flick, or better yet the newest Sofia Coppola movie.
Since Phoenix’s breakthrough into the mainstream with “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” it feels like much of the bands work could easily fit on the same record. Sure, themes have changed, some sounds and influence have changed, but for the most part, the band has churned out fun, sweet, synth heavy soft rock with the best of them. Not quite as high on the glycemic index as fellow synth rock band Passion Pit, but still very close, Phoenix does not step away from past laurels on their newest work.
Instead, Phoenix has further refined their sound and explored territory that is mostly tried and true. As someone who is a casual Phoenix fan at best, this album does nothing for me other than reiterate their past work. They’re still the well produced, hook based synth band they’ve always been, and they’re even more obsessed with love and Europe on this record (Italy specifically). How sweet would it of been to have them featured on the latest season of Master of None? “Fior Di Latte” plays, as Aziz Ansari eats a Fior Di Latte? If you read the lyrics to the song, that would be a little bit more nasty than fun.
Perhaps the hype, and growth experienced post “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” can be difficult to surmount, but Phoenix clearly are okay with continuing to build upon their stadium friendly, easy to like, soft rock. Doing exactly what The Strokes, and pretty much every band that refuses to change has done before them, Ti Amo is most of the same.
This isn’t a bad thing. The record is solid. But every song on the record feels too playlist friendly. Songs that you’d shazam, but never listen to, or songs that you’d enjoy on a summer barbecue but never actually follow up to find the song name. Every song is just good, and there aren’t many moments on the record that make a song stand above the rest, and force you to replay it again and again.
Album highlights for me, lie in “Fior Di Latte”, and “Role Models”. Despite its extremely on the nose correlation to orgasms, the reference to it being a Fior di Latte (which is the purest form of gelato, simply sweetened cream) is kind of funny. Backed by the fact that the chorus is satisfying and fun to sing along to, I’m sure I’ll be playing this song long after I put this album down. “Role models” contains one of the few memorable guitar moments on an otherwise guitar- less album. The synth is heavy, the drum machine is strong, and the effects and production are smothering.
J-Boy, Tuttifrutti, and Ti-Amo, are all kind of on the same boat for me. Songs that are relatively catchy, but don’t develop into anything. Just a simple melody that is repeated over and over and over again, until it’s embedded in your head. And once it’s there, you sing it and sing it until you’re absurdly sick of it. The songs don’t follow the natural “okay to great” progression usually associated with indie albums, but instead decline a bit with each lesson as you realize the music isn’t quite as good as a slice of lasagna(layers, bro).
The album as a whole is yet more proof that Phoenix can churn out soft rock/pop with the best of them, but if you were hoping for a breath of fresh air from the band, you’ll be disappointed with this one. But if you, your brother, and every other concert goer is happy with the “Lisztomania” and “1901” stadium type hits, you’ll be happy.. Ti Amo is sure to keep Phoenix at the top of your festival lists.
Be sure to shazam the latest Sofia Coppola movie to see which new Phoenix song is her favourite.